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Raja Ravi Varma biography launched

Special Correspondent
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Mass art in India owes much to him: S. Muthiah

Author: Rupika Chawla, author of the book on Raja Ravi Varma, in Chennai on Wednesday. — Photo: R.Ragu
Author: Rupika Chawla, author of the book on Raja Ravi Varma, in Chennai on Wednesday. — Photo: R.Ragu

An illustrated biography of celebrated painter Raja Ravi Varma that combines scholarship of history with the art of the narrative was launched here on Wednesday.

“Raja Ravi Varma: Painter of Colonial India” authored by Rupika Chawla was introduced to Chennai after launch events in Delhi, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram.

Historian S. Muthiah said mass art in India owed much to Ravi Varma, whose influence touched the spheres of art, glass painting, calendar printing and even film-making.

Influence

Pointing out that critics of Ravi Varma did not take into account the influence he had on millions, Mr. Muthiah said this aspect about the artist had been given its due in a tribute by Tamil poet Subramania Bharati.

N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, said while the book dealt with a great deal of historical material and technical detail, what also came through was the story of the artist's quest for independence, creating a public taste and expanding the frontiers of the art world in India.

Apart from his versatility and ability to adapt to different demands, a remarkable part of the Ravi Varma story as highlighted by the book was the launch of art as enterprise in colonial India, he said.

Describing the book as a “fine work of scholarship,” Mr. Ram said Ravi Varma's great contribution to the art history of India was in making his works accessible and affordable.

Ms. Chawla recounted her over six years of research on Ravi Varma that had led to fascinating visits to several places under the erstwhile Madras Presidency. Visits to Pudukottai, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Tiruchi had provided interesting material for the book, she said.

Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla said the book was the culmination of a journey of diligence and pursuit of truth.

Rani Rema Devi Tondaiman of erstwhile royal family of Pudukottai and Bipin Shah, representative of the Mapin Publishing, also spoke.

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